Food Photography 101: Photo Editing

Food Photography Editing

And here we are…the final installment of Food Photography 101…Photo Editing.

I like to do as little editing as possible…as should you. I try my best to take the best photos possible straight from my camera. First, I really don’t like spending more than 20-30 minutes editing photos for a post. Aside from the time it takes me to actually edit a photo, this also includes the time it takes for me to choose which photos to post as well as watermarking and cropping into squares for Foodgawker. If I have to spend more than 30 minutes on this, it’s probably because my photos weren’t that great so I have to spend more time on them and that seriously bugs me. My recommendation for all of you is to just try to make your photos the best you can with your camera so you don’t have to spend as much time on editing.

Which editing software should I use?

This is really a personal preference. Most people use either Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop. Now, there is clearly a huge price difference between the two. If you are just starting out, there are cheaper versions of Photoshop such as Adobe Photoshop Elements 12. So, which one is best? Like I said, this is really a personal preference. I have only used cheaper versions of Photoshop, but I plan to purchase Lightroom next. I have found that many bloggers seem to prefer Lightroom over Photoshop, plus it’s way cheaper! If you want to read more about the differences between the two, here is a good article that compares the two.

If you are looking for software that is free to use, I highly highly recommend PicMonkey. I actually use PicMonkey a lot. It’s easy and it does what I need it to. Because I strive to take the best photos right from my camera, I don’t need a lot of options. When I travel, I usually only take my work laptop so PicMonkey is perfect as I don’t want to put blog-related software on that computer. PicMonkey is also great for creating collages.

What do you typically edit in your photos?

I would say that normally, I do three things. First, I sharpen, then I either add a color boost or adjust exposure (if necessary, sometimes I don’t need to do either), and then I resize the photos to be uploaded to my site so they are not huge files. I’m going to show you how I edit my photos using my baked avocado fries as an example using PicMonkey since it is accessible to everyone.

Food Photography 101: Photo Editing

So here is an unedited photo of the avocado fries. It’s not bad, but it could use some sprucing up, especially some sharpening:

Editing Sharpen

IMG_8280 Sharpen

The sharpening really helps here I think. It enhances that “crispiness” on the fries from the panko bread crumbs. Now that it has been sharpened I still think it is on the dull side so now I am going to boost it to brighten the colors.

Editing Boost

Let’s look at a side-by-side photo of the before and after:

Avocado Fries Before and After

Big difference, no? And this is just with editing the sharpening and color boost. Like I said, sometimes I will adjust exposure if I feel my photos are on the darker side. If I feel my photos are too cool or too warm, I will occasionally adjust the temperature.

Should I watermark my photos?

Yes, absolutely. Always watermark your photos. With social media these days, more and more people are stealing photos from bloggers. I have been experimenting with putting a mark on the bottom right as well as someplace in the middle so that it makes it more difficult for someone to try to crop out.

Submitting to food porn sites:

First, if you plan to submit your photos to sites like Foodgawker or Tastespotting, you should always keep this in mind while you are taking your photos because you need to be sure that the food you are shooting will fit into a square as this is the way they are displayed on these sites. If you are shooting something that is really tall or wide, you may have to step back in order to get the shot you will need.

Once you have your shot that you want to submit, I recommend then cropping the photo into a square yourself. Foodgawker will do this for you, but you do not get to choose which parts of the photo get cropped so if you have a dish or drink that is not centered in the photo, it may get cut off when it is cropped. Tastespotting does have a tool for you to crop your own photos into a square which is nice, however I just make it a habit to save copies of my photos that I crop into a square myself and just upload those.


And this concludes Food Photography 101…for now at least! If you’ve been following along, I hope that you have found these posts helpful and hopefully you have learned at least one new thing about food photography! If there are any other topics you would like to see here, sound off in the comments!

If you missed any of the other Food Photography 101 posts, check them out!

Food Photography 101: An Introduction
Food Photography 101: Cameras
Food Photography 101: Lighting: Part One: Finding Natural Light
Food Photography 101: Lighting: Part Two: Aperture, ISO, and Exposure Speed
Food Photography 101: Lighting: Part Three: Artificial Lighitng
Food Photography 101: Props and Styling



  1. I also use PicMonkey… I have elements and I only use it to crop my photo to the right size for the food sites. I totally agree with you… I only take a minute to “edit” my photos…. sometimes picking the best one is hard since I am a bit on overkill and I take 100 or more shots. LOL! I know… thank goodness for digital cameras.

    I loved this series. :) Thank you for sharing it with us. :)

  2. Awesome post! It’s you who told me to use PicMonkey and I LOVE it!! I use it everyday!! Love all the suggestions, advice that you have given to be a better photographer!!

  3. Great summary post! I’m with you – if my pictures aren’t great out of camera it’s really frustrating to spend time trying to bring them up to par, it’s well worth waiting for and arranging around the best lighting. I don’t own any editing software and just use the basic picture editor that comes with Windows so having good pictures out of camera is a must! I’ve recently started watermarking…I held off because I like the focus to be on the food (and honestly I didn’t want to add another step :)), but I think it’s become necessary and can be done really tastefully and quickly!

  4. I finally found someone that loves picmonkey just as much as I do. It’s simply the best. :-)

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